Comment 90766

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted August 10, 2013 at 11:52:26

The city's last three high-profile heritage items -- City Hall, Lister Block & 100 Main West -- set problematic-to-dismal precedents for heritage preservation.This latest turn feels less surprising than inevitable: to varying extents, we're paying to be violated.

If we're going to take architectural heritage seriously, the City should not only intervene in cases where there is a clear-cut heritage threat, but also weed through the chaff on its books so that it knows where to direct its obviously scant resources and limited willpower (or, conversely, so that community advocates can leverage their own time and energy most effectively).

Speaking to this issue on The Hamiltonian, Councillor McHattie remarked that "the list of 7,000 [7,490] potentially significant heritage properties assembled by the former area municipalities and brought together at amalgamation has still not been ground-truthed and none of those properties have protection. There is now a staff project to examine the 1,000 downtown Hamilton properties on the list, and others are determining the best way to tackle the remaining 6,000 properties."

At the time of an RTH map project a couple of years back ('s_heritage_interest_properties), the number of buildings of heritage interest stood at 7,490. It's not clear if the councillor's comments reflect investigative inroads or just exuberant rounding.

Either way, it's amazing to me that the bona fides of thousands of "potentially significant" sites have not been examined over the last decade or more, but that might explain why the City appears to be in no hurry to designate more properties. They've settled for the appearance of caring (eg. flagging century homes), leaves the matter open to interpretation, trivializing the whole enterprise (ie. such properties are of interest but not of importance).

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